HELENA — For a while Tuesday night, the Helena High volleyball team looked like it might succumb to Missoula Sentinel.
The Spartans took the first set in the matchup of Western AA rivals in Helena and were looking to take control of the match in the second. But that’s when Elizabeth Heuiser asserted herself.
With a series of kills in the second set, Heuiser and the Bengals jumped out to a 9-2 lead, which led to a 13-point victory that evened the match at 1-1. Helena High wouldn’t look back from there as Heuiser and a slew of other contributors sparked a four-set victory by the scores of 23-25, 25-12, 25-18 and 28-26.
After dropping the first set by two points, the Bengals found their groove in the second and third sets, winning each frame easily thanks in part to the domination of Heuiser, who impacted the game as a hitter, blocker and server.
“She does great things for us in the front row and the back row,” Helena High head coach Lindsey Day said. “And she puts the ball away when we need her to.”
The fourth set, however, was a back and forth battle. The Bengals grabbed an early lead and pushed their advantage to as many as four before Sentinel fought back and tied things up at 19-19.
Three consecutive points from Heuiser helped the Bengals get the advantage, yet the Spartans refused to quit and tied the match three straight times facing match point. But a couple of hitting errors from Sentinel gave the final points and the win to the Bengals.
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“We just struggled getting into our rhythm early,” Day said. “But I was proud to see that we kept our composure and just kept battling. The thing about this team is they don’t panic. They stay calm in those tight moments.”
Heuiser filled up the stat sheet for the Bengals, finishing with 18 kills and 10 blocks, as well as 14 digs. Abby Marcille added seven kills of her own, while Emily Feller was also a key contributor with 39 assists and five blocks. Haydin Henschel did her part with 11 digs and five aces.
“It was intense,” Heuiser said. “But I felt like everyone had a calm presence on the court and that really helped us get those points we needed to win the game.”
On her stellar outing, Heuiser gave much of the credit to her teammates.
“I have my setter, Emily, tell me what to run,” She said. “Then I have my people in the back row telling me how many blockers I have and that really helps me visualize the court so I know where to hit.”
Heuiser and the Bengals will be back on their home court Saturday to host crosstown rival Helena Capital. The match will begin at approximately 4 p.m.